“We are a Christian-based healthcare ministry that provides healthcare to the neediest in our community,” says Bill Warren, M.D., the founder and president of The Good Samaritan Health Center.
Good Samaritan takes a holistic approach to treating the entire family, offering medical, dental, health education, mental health and social services.
“We treat babies, grown men and women, healthy pregnant women, and we do all primary care services for the entire family,” he says.
Good Samaritan’s Patients
“A typical family might be this: a mom, a dad and two kids. The father works at a McDonald’s restaurant flipping hamburgers. Maybe the mother works as a maid in a home. Between them, they make $38,000,” Dr. Warren says. “They have no health insurance, but are paying for their kids to have clothes, food and books. They are paying for transportation and rent on their apartment. They have nothing left at the end of the day to provide medical care.”
Patients at Good Samaritan “are mostly hard-working people trying to make ends meet and just can’t afford the typical cost of going to the doctor,” says Dr. Warren. “Heaven forbid that something catastrophic comes along and then they’re left with a $10,000 medical bill.”
Relying on Community Support
“Patients do pay something toward their care. That is very important to me, that patients have ownership,” he says. “About 30 percent of our overhead is covered by patient reimbursement. The other 70 percent has to be raised every year.”
Good Samaritan receives annual support from private donors as well as grants from charitable foundations.
“Most importantly, we have support from Piedmont Hospital, which gives us a direct grant to support patient care,” he says. “Piedmont also gives in-kind services through its labs. It is a godsend for us to be able to have that.”
Patients say the staff at Good Samaritan takes time to understand what they are going through.
“Sometimes you have people who put on their suit and just come do their job, but they don’t really understand what you’re going through,” says Tessi Lowe, a patient at the center. “[Good Samaritan] is there for me mentally, physically and emotionally.”
Dr. Warren says organizations like Good Samaritan are few and far between in the community. Those that do exist are often stretched beyond their resources.
“If Good Samaritan Health Services did not exist, people would be in a world of hurt,” says Dr. Warren. “They might use the emergency room [for primary care], which is an inappropriate use of the emergency room. Or they wait for their disease to become so bad, then they go to the emergency room, but it’s too late to do anything about it.”
Some people do not seek medical care at all and try to “survive through their condition.”
Thanks to support from the community and local organizations, Good Samaritan is able to provide a wide range of medical services to those who have nowhere else to turn.
“[Good Samaritan] may be small on the inside, but they are big at heart,” says Lowe.
Click here for more information about The Good Samaritan’s services and how you can get involved.